Canyonlands National Park

If you enjoy rock formations and canyons, then you need to visit Canyonlands National Park. This impressive national park is split by the Colorado River and its tributaries. These 4 distinct regions are Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. Each district is worthy of deep exploration, although much of this park can not be accessed with a four-legged companion. The easiest district to access is Island in the Sky. Most visitors will choose to experience this mesa resting on sandstone cliffs over 1000 feet above the surrounding terrain. There are many overlooks along Island in the Sky’s paved roads. For those wanting to explore further, the Needles requires some hiking and four-wheel driving to see the area’s attractions. And the Maze is even more remote.

A mere 27 miles separate the entrance of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. So there is no excuse not to visit Canyonlands when you are finished at Arches. And to be honest, we were more impressed with the views at Island in the Sky than we were with the arches in Arches National Park.

View from an overlook at Canyonlands National Park.

And did you know that Canyonlands has its own natural stone arches? One of the most popular is Mesa Arch. This incredible arch sits on the edge of a 500 ft cliff and offers a keyhole view of White Rim country. We loved the combination of a natural arch and a spectacular view.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

Dog-Friendly Activities

Overall, Canyonlands National Park, like Arches, is not very dog-friendly. Activities will be severely limited with the addition of a four-legged companion. Pets are allowed in campgrounds, on paved scenic drives and parking lots, and on Potash/Shafer Canyon road between Moab and Island in the Sky. This means that they are NOT allowed at overlooks, on any hiking trails, anywhere in the backcountry, on the rivers, or on any backcountry roads (even if your pup stays in the vehicle). More information about Canyonlands pet policy can be found on the official National Park site.

So what were we able to do with the pups in Canyonlands? We drove between overlooks and took turns watching the dogs in the parking lots and heading up to see the views. We picnicked along the side of a road with stunning views  And then we headed outside the park to stretch the dogs’ legs.

Glia trying to catch a good view from the side of the road.


There are two campgrounds inside of Canyonlands National Park – Willow Flat and Squaw Flat. More information about these campgrounds can be found on the official site

We did not take advantage of these two campgrounds. Instead, we instead camped in a BLM campground the night before visiting Canyonlands. And at a state campground the night after. More information regarding options for BLM campgrounds around Moab, Utah can be found in our Arches National Park blog post.

The state park we chose was Utah’s Green River State Park, as it was well-located on our route to Capital Reef National Park. The state park was nice, and it was definitely green. However, we were disappointed to find no hiking trails at this state park. We had become so used to state parks having dog-friendly hiking trails, that we may have failed to do enough research prior to our stay. But if you like golfing or want to float down the adjacent river or are just missing some greenery, the campsites were very nice. 

Our campsite at Green River State Park.

Activities in the Surrounding Areas

See our article about Arches National Park for suggestions of dog friendly activities in the surrounding area.

Final Thoughts

Canyonlands is currently on the list of parks I need to return to without the pups. The small section we were able to explore with the dogs was tantalizing and left me wanting to explore much deeper. And I will probably bring a jeep instead of an RV next time.

Have any of you readers visited this area with dogs? Do you have any favorite national park alternative hikes that are dog-friendly? Share your thoughts below.


Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts